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— Publisher’s Note —
Good morning! The news cycle has taken an expected turn today, as we have hit a pause on both the national and state levels.
On the national level, the COVID relief bill passed the Senate and will be voted on by the House today. Beyond that, there is much talk about filibuster reform, infrastructure, and voting rights, but only talk so far.
On the state level, the General Assembly won’t be in session again until Thursday. The budget is being worked on, but we don’t have any details yet. And, the pandemic numbers continue to be good across the state.
The slowdown in political news means slim pickings for the Forward Five — so today it is the Forward Four.
Even so, there are some good articles in the yellow-box Featured Content space, so be sure to check those out.
Enjoy the good weather, and be thankful that after the last four years of daily crazy, we can have a relatively calm day. See you tomorrow.
Five Four Things to Know
3/8 update — Guidance for vaccinated is a yellow light, not a green one, officials say, warning that we’re still in a race with more contagious strains
The guidance from the CDC says people two weeks past their last coronavirus vaccination can safely gather in small groups in their home with other fully vaccinated adults without wearing masks, but if a non-vaccinated person is present, masks and distancing are needed. (Forward Kentucky)
Beshear urges lawmakers to ‘be bold’ in crafting budget
Democratic Gov. Beshear urged Republican lawmakers to go bold in crafting a budget, saying the money is available to strengthen Kentucky’s competitiveness as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Herald-Leader)
As expected, Ky. unemployment rate for 2020 jumped 50%
The COVID-19 pandemic caused Kentucky’s annual unemployment rate for 2020 to jump more than 50% above the 2019 figure, state officials reported on Monday. Kentucky’s annual unemployment rate for 2020 was 6.6%, up from 4.1% in 2019, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. The U.S. annual unemployment rate had an even bigger spike, jumping to 8.1% in 2020 from 3.7% in 2019.
All 50 states experienced a statistically significant increase in their annual unemployment rates from 2019 to 2020. Kentucky’s unemployment rate for 2020 was higher than 20 states and lower than 29 states. Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in 2020 at 12.8%, while Nebraska had the lowest rate at 4.2%. Among its surrounding states, Kentucky’s unemployment rate was lower than Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, but higher than Missouri and Virginia. (Kentucky Today)
Bill forgiving unemployment overpayments passes, heads to Beshear
A bill that would allow the state to forgive overpayments of unemployment insurance benefits has passed both chambers of the Kentucky legislature and is headed to the governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 7 is one of several bills filed this session that seek to unburden Kentuckians who were paid too much in unemployment benefits through no fault of their own. The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate on Feb. 26 and passed in the House on Friday. It now heads to Gov. Andy Beshear, who in the past has voiced support for a legislative fix to the overpayment issue. (Courier-Journal)
Recent Content on Forward Kentucky
[new] indicates item not in a Forward Five before
🔥indicates high # of reads, social media shares, or both
[New] Republicans are standing in a metaphorical schoolhouse door – Today, the cry of the Republican party is “voter suppression now, voter suppression tomorrow, and voter suppression forever.” And across the country, they are standing in a metaphorical door to stop people from voting. (Commentary)
[New] GOP as the “working class party”?!? BWAH-HA-HA-HA!! – The GOP’s attempt to rebrand itself as a blue collar party is the latest sucker play in a 40-year-old con on working people. (Commentary)
Open records shenanigans, abortion amendments, and JCPS reopens – Jazmin and Robert discuss several of the bills making their way through KYGA21, including a bill allowing the AG to prosecute protestors, major changes to the open records law, changes to voting rights, and a constitutional amendment to end abortion in Kentucky. (Podcast)
Not one Republican voted to help Americans in the midst of the COVID Pandemic. Not one. – Let’s scream from the rooftops — Not one Republican voted to help families in dire need. Not one Republican voted to help bring an end to this pandemic. Not one Republican voted to help open schools safely. Not one. (Commentary)
Insulting a police officer could become a crime in Kentucky – A Senate committee advanced a bill Thursday enhancing punishments for crimes related to rioting, including a provision making it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer to the point it could provoke a violent response. (Brief)
Kentucky bill would ban execution for severely mentally ill – Efforts to ban the application of the death penalty to some people with severe mental illnesses ran into resistance Thursday, but the bill mustered just enough votes to be sent to the Kentucky Senate. (Brief)
Important bills are moving – here’s a list – As we head into the home stretch of this year’s General Assembly, the pace of legislation has picked up dramatically. Of all the bills getting hearings and votes, here are some of the more important ones and where they stand. (Backgrounder)
House Democrats just passed the most important democracy reforms since the 1965 Voting Rights Act – These reforms face a challenging path in the Senate, given Democrats’ narrow majority and the GOP filibuster. But, their adoption is critical for preserving American democracy amid unprecedented attack by Republican extremists both in and outside Congress. (News)
You can help Eastern Kentucky with your wallet – You can help the people in Eastern Kentucky by donating to one of these three relief funds, or by buying something on an Amazon wish list. (Action)
Credit where due — Repubs in Frankfort pass some GOOD bills – With Repubs controlling pretty much everything in this year’s General Assembly, we give them much grief for some of the horrible bills they sponsor and pass. So, it’s only fair that when they actually pass some GOOD bills, we call those out as well. (Commentary)
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